The Puget Sound area was hit by hurricane force winds that knocked out power to over 1 million people. Because of the power outages, people are trying to keep warm by any means available, including charcoal and propane stoves being used indoors without proper ventilation. So far, 100 people have been hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisioning. Emergency planners suggest that you need to be able to survive for three days without basic utilities. Do not be one of the tragic statistics.
It is critical to recognize symptoms of poisioning early, because you can get sick with flu-like symptoms. Prolonged exposure has sadly lead to some deaths locally. To avoid CO poisoning, the Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these tips:
– Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
– Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
– Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and tools. Always refer to the owner's manual when performing minor adjustments or servicing fuel-burning appliances.
– Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers for heating your home.
– Never operate unintented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or in any room where people are sleeping.
But, what can you do in the interim, when temperatures are dropping and there is no hope of power coming on soon? If your house has a fireplace, start a fire. Obviously, of course, and unless you have an insert or a wood burning stove, you will not heat up the house to standard temperatures. However, any additional heat you can create will help you manage during the outage.
Next, make use of the natural light that you may have at your house. If you have lots of windows, lift any curtains during the sunny times of the day. Let the sun heat what it can before it goes away for the evening. Close your curtains at night to retain any extra heat generated.
If your fireplace is upstairs, have a campout with your family in the house. We all have hazy memories from High School Science that heat rises. Get the family in a main room, preferably upstairs, with lots of pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags. Between the body heat of all the family members and the fire in your fireplace, you might be able to tough out the night. Make sure any candles are blown out before you go to sleep, and the adults of the family must manage the fire.
Last, if you have to leave the house, do not feel bad for doing so. Cities that are "known" for their money have set up emergency Shelters at churches and high schools. The heat will be on, they will have food, and television to keep you informed and entertained. If you have the money, rent a hotel room. If you do not, see if you can combine resources with family members or neighbors. You do not know who might have a space blanket, or a portable stove or grill. You may actually get to know someone and make new friends, or have a family experience you will not soon forget.